Waters career in New England seems to be over, but unless he retires the Patriots control his future. (FILE:USATodayImages)

Offensive lineman Brian Waters became an integral part of New England’s offensive line during the 2011 season, but now it will be up to the Patriots to decide what his future may hold.

After signing a two-year free agent contract prior to last season, he missed this year after having never reported. ¬†His number (#54, which was Tedy Bruschi’s old number) was later given to rookie linebacker Dont’a Hightower.

Field Yates of ESPNBoston.com points out that after sitting out Waters still isn’t a free agent and New England has control over him heading into the 2013 league year.

During his absence the team survived initial offensive line concerns heading into the start of this past season where they even reportedly offered Waters a “significant” pay increase to get him to report for the final year of his deal.

That never happened, and Waters never came back.

What happens now remains to be seen. ¬†The likely scenario – unless Waters opts to retire – would be to trade him since releasing him doesn’t do them any good.

For now the only people who know what’s going on is Waters and the Patriots front office, but it seems his tenure here is likely over. ¬†They control his rights with the only question now being whether or not they’re able to salvage anything in terms of acquiring anything in a trade for him. ¬†

With April’s draft edging ever closer and the Patriots in need of stocking up on draft picks, it could be yet another interesting story to follow over this offseason.